Associated British Foods, which makes Twinings Tea, Kingsmill bread and Ryvita crispbreads, has said trading in the early part of its current fiscal year is running satisfactorily ahead of last year.

“Our budgets are set for further progress, which we are well placed to deliver,” the company added.

ABF said that in recent weeks, there had been signs of improving economic conditions in many of the countries in which it operates, but added that it was too early to say if this was a long-term trend.

Last month, the company posted pre-tax profit of £473m (US$815.9m) for the year to 13 September, a 10% rise over the previous year.

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